Kaspersky: Partners Ready For Managed Security Services

Kaspersky Lab is looking to break into the managed security services game with the upcoming launch of its Service Provider Edition, which will give its partners the ability to sell anti-virus as a managed services play.

At the 2011 Kaspersky Lab Americas Partner Conference the company hinted at a managed security services play and said it was an evolutionary step in Kaspersky's upcoming product roadmap.

Service Provider Edition will let partners manage anti-virus protection across their customers, enabling them to monitor and control customer security infrastructures, Kaspersky said. It can be offered as subscription service.

And while getting into managed security services is new ground for Kaspersky, the company said itself and its partners are well equipped to handle the shift, and that managed services are something that key partners have been clamoring for as the IT world turns its attention to SaaS and cloud computing.

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"For the partners, if you're going to be wildly successful and experience explosive growth it has to be easy to do business," said Nancy Reynolds, Kaspersky's senior vice president of corporate sales and support. "The infrastructure requirements have to be low. And we've architected a plan to allow that to happen. From what we're seeing and hearing that's going to be extremely positive."

Initially, Reynolds said, Kaspersky will roll Service Provider Edition out to a select number of partners that either have a managed services practice or have strong intent to build one out. In a time when "cash flow is king," Reynolds said, a managed security services play gives Kaspersky partners a new annuity-based revenue stream that will help them sustain their businesses.

"It's no longer about a renewal, she said. If you can get monthly billing there is no renewal. It changes the renewal model."

To get partners up to snuff and start the managed services ball rolling, Kaspersky is planning to educate them and foster partner-to-partner conversations.

Gary Abad, Kaspersky's vice president of North American channels said a good portion of Kaspersky's partner base already has some form of managed services offering. Those will be the first to benefit from the Service Provider Edition.

"We have quite a few partners out there that have today a managed services play," Abad said. "The smaller customers out there, the smaller organizations, this is a perfect solution for them...It's going to be a slow roll. We'll learn from rolling it out with a few partners how to scale it. But even when we completely scale it it will still be higher requirements from a technical perspective, from a sales perspective and form a go to market perspective. I don't want to spend a lot of cycles trying to spin somebody up to find they're really not going to get into the space or they're testing it out."

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Abad said partners that aren't quite ready to host their own managed security services play can offer anti-virus using Service Provider Edition on existing cloud infrastructures.

"They don't even have to host it themselves. They can go to Amazon or go to Rackspace and do this. I think that they probably will," he said. "But if it's not core to their business today, if it's not something they're offering I would be hesitant to say, 'This is the right thing for you to do.' There are other ways to make money with Kaspersky that will be easier for them. I would shy away from those partners and focus on those that this is already something that's a strategic initiative for them that they're driving toward."

Kaspersky President Steve Orenberg added that the new managed security services play from Kaspersky will help not only Kaspersky fuel growth, but boost partners' customer relationships as well. He said there are a number of partners currently in beta.

"On a managed service, what the end user is doing is buying the relationship and the confidence with the channel partner. They're outsourcing their security; they're going to pick the solution that's right for them."

But Orenberg said Kaspersky's upcoming launch of the Service Provider Edition Managed Security offering goes beyond simply a new product release and way to enhance Kaspersky's brand.

"It's not really a branding exercise for that market, as much as it is exposing the channel to the opportunity," he said. "We have to go out, we have to promote the availability of managed services for the first couple of months...and attract more partners who have service capabilities in their portfolio."